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Want Self-Esteem? Practice Accountability!

Posted: February 07, 2018

An important ingredient missing in many of today's kids and young adults is accountability.  Everyone is worried that these age groups are exhibiting low self-esteem and an inability to handle the challenges life send their way.  The issues these young folks are facing likely came from a shortfall in the lessons of accountability they learned earlier in life. Learning to behave with complete accountability is a necessary part of a healthy growth and maturity process.

Accountability, the act of following through on one's promises and the open acceptance of the consequences of our choices and actions, is often a concept that parents find difficult to teach their children.  While they understand the concept, model the concept and attempt to help their kids learn the idea, it often seems too painful to hold a child to the core of the concept. This reluctance to fully teach the meaning of accountability can have a large and lasting impact on a child's self-esteem.

First, let's look at promises.  When a potential student comes into our school for a Student Assessment and Family Meeting one of the processes I go through with all children, ages 3-16, is the concept of "Answering Up".  In our school we use the "Answer Up", saying "Yes, Sir/Ma'am!", as a way of showing respect as well as a way of maintaining safety in a very dynamic environment.  During the potential student's initial visit I challenge them to "Answer Up" every time I ask them to do something as part of one our Student Assessment Challenges.  I also remind them that when they "Answer Up" at home and school, as they should, they are making a promise to whomever they are answering.  They are saying, "Yes Ma'am/Sir, I will get that done right away!"  I turn this into a powerful tool that parents and teachers can use to help keep the child on track and focused by linking it to idea that, "A good Black Belt Leader ALWAYS keeps their promises."  The most interesting thing about this very short process is the immediate effect it has on every child that comes through my office.  Every one of them responds more quickly with the "Answer Up" after I explain the reason behind it and it's real power.  Their Self-Esteem jumps and they become more inquisitive, willing to try new challenges and more respectful towards their parents.  As they begin to "Answer Up" and then execute the simple instructions I am giving them you can almost see their self-worth and belief intheir ability to accomplish anything grow!  Promises do not need to be complex to be powerful, encourage accountability through the use of simple promise-making and promise-keeping cycles.

The Power and Importance of Self-Awareness

Posted: January 31, 2018

Self-awareness, the understanding of our selves, our choices and actions, and our impact on the world around has agreat deal of power in our lives.  As children grow up it is important that these lessons and understanding start early, giving them the opportunity to harness the power granted by true self-awareness.  When a child can see, for themselves, how their choices and actions, or inaction, effect themselves and the world around them a new path to greater self-esteem is opened to them.

As a martial arts instructor I work very hard to begin this learning process with all of my students, especially the youngest classes. The simplest, yet most profound, way to approach the development of self-awareness is simply to ask questions.  It is important that when using a technique such as guided response through the use of open ended questions that it be applied in both positive and negative situations.  If we only ask a child questions that lead to negative answers and the "rehashing" of actions or choices that are seen as "incorrect" or "bad" behavior, it can cause them to close up and stop responding.  I use the same process, often using the exact same questions for helping a student explore both positive (accomplishment) and negative (failure) outcome experiences.  The whole process should be conducted to help the child explore the situation, their choices, their actions and the resultant outcomes on their terms, not ours as adults. 

As a child goes through this process of self-exploration and discovery of their impact on their world they see that they matter, their actions, words and choices matter.  When they see that they can have a positive impact on their world their self-esteem rises.  The exploration of negative outcome experieinces, in their terms, gives them the opprtunity to exercise their growing ability to feel empathy.  The ability to feel empathy and act on related emotions then gives them a growing satisfaction in their actions and in themselves. 

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